ST. PETERSBURG, October 14. /TASS/. PACE’s new president Stella Kyriakides sent a letter to speakers of the Russian parliament’s lower and upper houses Vyacheslav Volodin and Valentina Matviyenko, where she confirmed she was ready to meet them soon to discuss the relations between Russia and PACE, TASS learned on sidelines of the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s assembly, which opens in St. Petersburg on Saturday.
"She (Kyriakides) thanks for the invitation to participate in the assembly, but says PACE is unable to send an official representative," the source told TASS. She "hopes soon, whenever it is possible, to have a meeting with speakers of the Russian parliament’s houses to discuss the relations between the Russian parliament and PACE and calls this issue exclusively important," the source added.
The new president wished to Matviyenko and Volodin "successful assembly, thus expressing the desire for constructive contacts with the Russian side," the source said.
In late June, Russia suspended paying its contribution to the Council of Europe since its delegation does not take part in PACE activity. Simultaneously, Moscow suggested that the assembly’s procedure should include provisions banning any authority, but for the voters, to strip national delegations of their powers.
In April 2014, the Russian delegation to PACE was stripped of key rights, including the right to vote and take part in the assembly’s governing bodies, following the developments in Ukraine and Crimea’s reunification with Russia. The issue of restoring the rights of the Russian delegation was raised at PACE twice throughout 2015 but the sanctions are still in place: Russia is deprived of the right to vote and cannot take part in the Assembly’s governing bodies and elections monitoring missions. In response, Russia suspended its participation in the PACE activities until the end of 2015. In January 2016, Russia refrained from applying for confirmation of its rights for 2016.
In January 2017, Leonid Slutsky, the head of the Russian State Duma (lower house) foreign affairs committee, said Russia would continue close cooperation with PACE but would not take part in its plenary sessions and committees in 2017.